The bluebird has long been a symbol of cheerfulness, happiness, prosperity. It’s such a chipper, lovely little bird, and my favorite harbinger of spring. Here in Kansas, I’ve had bluebirds hopping around my birdbath and feeder since January! I just love the little flitty things!
The other day, a pal popped in for a visit, carrying with her a piece of art she had appropriated from her sister’s wall. Much to my delight, it featured the bluebird – in silk and gold embroidery, Chinese style. The piece was purchased at an antique shop, and it was uniquely framed – encased in glass on both sides, so that the embroidered piece floated in the middle of the frame, and any wall behind it showed through. The frame job made it somewhat difficult to photograph, but I did my best, because I wanted to send the Bluebird of Happiness your way!
Embroidered on red silk with silk and gold threads, the bluebird occupies the center of this cheerful medallion. At first, I thought the piece might have been salvaged or cut from a larger embroidery and then finished and framed, but after looking at the front and back (the back is covered in silk, so the stitches aren’t discernible) and the edges (which are turned in and finished), and considering the unity of the whole embroidered design, I changed my mind.
The stitches that make up the bluebird are delicate and tiny, and the techniques involved are long and short stitch in a sort of ‘block shading’ method (the long and short stitches are worked in even, rigid rows), satin stitch on the feathers, and double lines of tiny couched gold passing thread.
I love the fact that the bird is in flight, with head lifted up. The bluebird is supposed to be an “uplifting” bird – in symbolism, it often denotes uplifted spirits (hence, happiness).
Behind the bird, we find a burst of berries and leaves. The berries are stitched in two colors of a muted pinkish-purple, in long and short stitch, and the leaves are stitched in satin stitch. All the silk used is flat silk, so there’s a definite sheen on the stitches! And surrounding all is the tiny gold passing thread.
The edge of the piece is bordered with butterflies and flowers in silk and gold, and lovely golden swashes worked in the gold passing thread. The edge contributes even more to that sense of Spring and happiness which the whole piece conveys.
The majority of the couching of the gold throughout the piece is done in red. But you can see on the gold swashes on each side of the bud in the photo above, that the gold is couched with green instead of red. I thought that curious. It’s the case with each of the four buds on the outside edge of the design, the only places where any color besides red is used to couch the gold. Why switch to green there, I wonder?
I have officially titled the piece The Bluebird of Happiness, even if the owner doesn’t know it, and I’m sending it your way to bring you good cheer!
Hope your day is a happy one!
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